You say goodbye, I say hello

January 3, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I have been seeking some inspiration and guidance to start my new year off right. It’s 12:15 pm on Sunday and I am still in my pjs, so no, I didn’t start a new diet or an aggressive new workout routine. I am not creating a long list of resolutions that will wane as the year progresses. I am looking for a more meaningful approach – focusing more on a way of being rather those godforsaken SMART goals that ensure I achieve whatever is on my list. Or to remind me when I don’t.

I have closed the door on 2015. Before I jump into 2016, I want to leave some things behind, and letting go is not a great strength of mine.  But I know the best way to make room for the new is to purge the old – whether it’s in my closet or in my heart. I know that it’s much easier to find that perfect blouse when it’s not buried among 4 seasons and 3 sizes of old clothes. Just like I know it is much easier to feel love in the present when it’s not buried in regrets about the past or anxiety/fear of the future. And I know that the best way to find the energy to make this effort to clear out the cobwebs is from a place of love – because love is a renewable energy that not only replenishes on its own, but also multiplies and spreads to others. It’s literally catching!

So to get some help, I perused my favorite blogs (Marc and Angel, and “Momastery” Glennon Doyle Melton) and  listened to some of “The Bloggess” Jenny Lawson’s audio book “Furiously Happy”. I followed my favorite spiritual icons on Facebook and Instagram (Maria Shriver, Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne Lamott, and Kid President) and I completed reading  “The Shaken Snow Globe”by a new author Kristy Dominiak, who I discovered is practically my neighbor and fellow Notre Dame alum.

My first thought is that I could really use a cool nickname for my blog persona (I am open to suggestions!). Mostly though, I am marinating in some pretty amazing content.  I think that one of the consistent threads throughout my favorite writers is that in order to live an authentic life – one that is open, vulnerable and full of love, it is certain that I will experience pain. Not just possible – certain.  Ouch. And sometimes big time OUCH! I reminded myself that even though I was experiencing pain and sadness due to the issues my family faced last year, that same family has brought me immense joy and happiness. I relied on what was in my heart – and on my faith that I was in the right place – to remain hopeful and quell the anxiety that always plagues me at my low points.

Another result of this “marinating” is that I am reminded that even though life is messy, that there can be joy in even the smallest moments. The important thing is to be present – to pay attention – to notice, and to STOP and soak the joy in. For example, I stopped writing for about 30 minutes so that Eric, my significant other Jerry’s son, could climb in my lap to snuggle for a little while.

This is me and Eric snuggling in my office chair. Jerry caught us snuggling, and as usual, he had his camera ready.

He discovered that my office chair rocks. I have a feeling that this could become a favorite snuggle spot in the future, and I am totally fine with that! It made my day – and had I decided to keep going so I could finish my “task”, I would have missed out on a joyous moment.

So when I think about last year – I want to let go of that anxiety. I want to let go of the paralyzing fear that destroys my self-confidence and clouds my heart. I want to let go of my co-dependent tendency to over-fix and focus on other people’s feelings at the expense of my own. I want to let go of the need to cross things off of lists. I want to let go of the self-criticism that happens when I am not at my best.  I will no longer say “I wish I wasn’t wired this way” when I feel pain. I am who I am because of how I am wired – and you know what? I kind of like myself this way. In fact, I have worked really freaking hard to figure myself out – and I have come to accept that my greatest strength of empathy can also be my greatest weakness if I don’t pay enough attention to myself and my own needs.

Thanks to Liz Gilbert’s post on New Year’s Eve, I am reminded that I do a better job of letting go when I take part in some sort of ritual.  I am writing these things on pieces of paper and burning them one by one so that I can physically see them disappear. That way when I am sure to get triggered at some point in the future, I can remember that visual and allow myself to let that feeling go.

And thanks to Liz Gilbert’s post on New Year’s Day, I started my first Happiness Jar. The idea is to write down the things that happen in your day that made you happy on a piece of paper – they can be small things or big things. Liz says “When I say that happiness is a consequence of personal effort, this is kind of thing I’m talking about. I’m talking about showing up, paying attention to the instances of good fortune in your life, putting a spotlight on the small good things, and creating a body of evidence that you are (on ALL days) brushing up against grace. Look for it, and you’ll find it.”

This is my Happiness Jar.


Moments like this will help fuel me with the energy and love I will need to endure the painful times ahead.

Welcome 2016! Presence is my mantra. My heart, my eyes and my arms are wide open. And PS – Eric is back on my lap, and I am happy.


Let it Be…

Sometimes I think God speaks to me through my car radio. Not in a creepy booming voice kind of way…it’s just that sometimes the perfect song plays at the time I need it the most. This has happened to me more than a few times – at either incredibly painful or joyous times…these songs and the way they made me feel have become defining moments for me.

I have been wrestling with a lot of questions lately – a lot of uncertainty. This is not a comfortable place for me, but I am working hard to stay vulnerable – to be conscious of my feelings, to be deliberate in my actions…to resist fear and take risks. Trying to adopt requires this… some days it is easy, and some days it is hard.

My big question lately is when does it make sense to let go, and when does it make sense to dig deep? I really struggle with this – I do not have a clear answer. I don’t think there is an answer because I think the answer changes moment to moment for me. Sometimes I want to let go of the angst, the uncertainty and to just let the inevitable happen. Most of the time, I don’t know how to actually do that. Other times I feel I need to dig deep and try harder. And much of the time I am not sure what to do. Sometimes I think I need to do both at the same time – let go AND dig deep. Ugh! Can you feel the tension?

Tonight I was driving home, lost in my thoughts on a tough day. I turned on the radio, and the very beginning of the Beatles “Let it Be” came on. Ahhhh… I immediately felt better. What a lovely song:

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

The perfect song for the perfect moment. Again. God speaking to me through my car radio.

So next time I struggle with this question (which is likely to be tomorrow) I’ll remember how peaceful I felt on my drive home tonight. I’ll try to “let it be” in that moment…

An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s Sunday morning, a time I like to reflect and write…and as I start this, I am not quite sure where it’s going to go.

I think I will start with gratitude and faith today – something that I rarely write about.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust

Since I wrote my New Year’s post last month (Onward), I have heard from many friends, family, coworkers, and strangers who shared words of encouragement, and in many cases their own stories of heartache and joy. I am deeply touched that some said my post helped them in some way. That is why I write this blog – and I am so blessed to feel I was able to connect and help someone else.

Thank you to everyone who reads this. Thank you to the people who feel compelled to share your own pains, struggles, and joys with me. It means more to mean that you will ever know.

Last week, I had 150 nuns along with a Mormon temple praying for me, as well as many family and friends (my faith is not bound by my religion…but my religion is part of my faith if that makes any sense). I had a friend light a candle at the Grotto at Notre Dame for me. And I got to visit with my real live guardian angel, Anna Lee Crumpton, yesterday. How lucky am I?

Anna Lee is my friend Tiffany’s mother in law. I met her when Tiffany married her husband John a few years ago. I feel that Anna Lee is a guardian angel because since I met her a few years ago, I instantly felt a spiritual connection to her. Anna Lee always tells me how she prays for me (as she does for many of my friends too). She is certain that God has a plan for me – that my journey will completely make sense to me. I always feel better after spending some time with her, because she is such an inspiration to me and to people who know her.

Anna Lee has been fighting cancer for some time, but you would never know by talking to her. She emanates joy, grace, and peacefulness, which comes directly from her faith. She is one of those people who walks the walk. Tiffany and John brought Anna Lee over to see my new house yesterday, and we shared a bottle of Prosecco and visited for a little while. When we spoke about her most recent treatment, she shared a funny story about how her granddaughter Tristen went to chemo with her…and how they watched their favorite TV show and laughed their way through. Laughing through chemo? Wow – she is something else!

When Anna Lee left my house, we promised to pray for each other like we always do. She asked that when I pray for her, that I express her gratitude since she has everything she needs. Wow. Since yesterday, I have been thinking about that, and am trying to learn from her example.

Anna Lee is in the middle. These are just a few of the people she prays for!
Anna Lee is in the middle. This was taken a year ago. These are just a few of the people she prays for!

My journey continues to be unpredictable and challenging, but today, I feel peaceful because of the support I feel from my “village”, and from the faith I share with them. I don’t have any more answers than I did a few weeks ago, but I feel stronger.

Gratitude is powerful. I know most of us know this…and yet it is so easy to forget or ignore. But it is impossible to ignore with people like Anna Lee in my life. Today I am grateful!